Welcome to my “daily comment.” The ground rules Ceres and I have agreed to are simple. I can write whatever I want, ranging from a sentence to an epic, and nothing is off limits. I can even say things like, “Don’t trade stocks yourself — for most people, it’s smarter to invest through no-load mutual funds.” Which it is.

So there I was getting ready to address the Golden Gate Business Association in San Francisco, the gay business group, but awards had to be awarded first (to some truly outstanding business people, I might add), and the mayor had to read a proclamation.

Another mayor might just have sent a messenger, or come up to accept some applause, read the thing proclaiming it Golden Gate Business Association Day, and bolt. Not Willie Brown.

Willia Brown, who for many years had all but controlled the California legislature until term limits required him to find something new to do, accepted his standing ovation and proceeded to deliver a rollicking, side-splitting and eventually serious speech (the proclamation itself, he said, was — and this is a direct quote, though I can’t begin to do justice to the mastery of his delivery, “bullshit”). It was great in parts, and slick throughout.

His main comic theme was how much of a pay cut he’d had to take with this new job. Being from Miami, I hadn’t any idea just how low that might be, but remembering that the governor of Arkansas used to earn just $35,000 a year, I formed the appropriate mental picture.

The mayor described how, when it first came, he looked at his paycheck uncomprehendingly. “What could it be?” he asked a staffer. “Your paycheck.” So he took it home — holding it at arm’s length, as it were, it was such a dirty little amount (this is a mayor known for enjoying the finer things in life) — and just laid it on the kitchen counter and forgot about it. The next day, he told us, he came home from work to have the doorman tell him, “Your maid left you a message. She wanted you to know she saw what you were proposing to pay her and she quit.”

And it went on from there. Very funny. But I will admit I was surprised to learn what the Mayor’s salary actually is in San Francisco: $139,000.

Tomorrow: Tobacco Bucks


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